Friday, April 28, 2017

Watching Whales with Harbor Breeze Cruises.

I understand the love of the ocean.  I can honestly say that it has never really called to me until now.  I guess it took spending a lot of time near it to understand its magic.  The crash of the waves plays a peaceful melody and just looking at it makes us feel very small in a very big world.  We had the awesome opportunity to go on a three hour cruise and it changed my view of the world.  

We jumped on to a Harbor Breeze Cruise after a fun filled morning at the Aquarium of the Pacific.   The Aquarium of the Pacific, located right off the path of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, is a perfect way to spend the day alone but when we added the whale watching cruise it was perfect.  The cruise team was informative and excited to be there.  

We pulled away right by the Queen Mary as we started our adventure.  As we left the safety of the harbor the waves picked up a little bit.  I was a bit nervous about getting motion sick but the captain of the boat was already thinking through this and they know which direction to go to keep our nausea down.  Its like they have done it a time or two.  Right away we started to see things.  We passed big oil taker boats and rigs that seemed so small on the big Pacific Ocean.  After what seemed like a few minutes we were already surrounded by playful dolphins.  One of the coolest things about this tour was that we had an employee of the aquarium with us the whole time. 

Our first group of dolphins we saw were the Pacific White Sided Dolphins.  These beautiful creatures were jumping along side and jumping with our boat as we traveled on.  It was almost like they were playing with us.  These dolphins like to live in groups so we were able to see a bunch of them.  These dolphins also have a shorter nose than what we think about when we think about dolphins. We saw a few hundred common dolphins as well.  They were just as playful as the White Sided dolphins.  We also saw sea lions that were happy to wave to us as we went by.  There were a lot of birds there to pick at the schools of fish we could see just under the surface of the water.  

As we were nearing the end of our tour we joked with an employee that it was time to break out the animatronic whales so that we could see some in action.  He laughed with us and we talked about how often he gets to see them.  All of a sudden the employees got in a rush telling us all to sit down in our seats.  The ride was about to get bumpy.  The boats are all in contact with each other.  When a different cruise tour found whales they called out and let our boat know.  Our captain took us for a speed boat ride to get us to these whales before they went under.  They did not disappoint us.  They put that boat in full throttle and we skimmed the top of the ocean skipping along like a rock.  This was up there in excitement like a thrilling roller coaster. They pulled up to show us two Grey Whales splashing away.  These things made the boat seem small.  The Pacific Grey Whale can reach a length of 49 feet.  These whales are baleen whales which means that they scoop up sediment from the floor of the ocean and spitting it back out through a baleen.  A baleen looks like a bunch of hairs on a toothbrush.  Through them the whales push out the water and the animals such as krill are left behind to eat.  They tend to push the water out on the same side each time and it wears down.  We can look at older whales and tell which side of the baleen is used just like we tend to be right or left handed.  I hope I explained that right because I am trying to regurgitate what the aquarium employee told us.  I found it so interesting.  

After taking this tour I am more than excited to take another.  Every day and every season will bring new things to see. The fun part of this is that you can get discounts to the tour by getting them through the Aquarium of the Pacific or even occasionally on Groupon.

There is no way to fully explain how great this tour is.  I think you would love to see this as well.  What would your dream tour be?

Happy travels.

❤ Misty

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Goo Goo For Gobblers

  For some people when Summer gives way to Fall an urge grows within them. A somewhat primal urge that drives us to the great outdoors to hunt wild game. Now to some the thought of hunting is a barbaric and outdated practice but to others it's a tradition or maybe even a way of life. This feeling is not lost on me and even though I'm working in California I wasn't going to let that stop me from taking part in that tradition. But I didn't have to wait until Fall because right now is Spring turkey season. 
  Until this year I had never hunted turkey before and from the research I had done they sounded like a challenge. So when my friend called me and asked if I would be interested in trying it out I had only one answer. Absolutely. So we started planning our trip to the family property in Fillmore, Utah.
These decoys would be the closest we would get to a turkey
 We had to practice turkey calls, pick up new camouflage (because mine was missing from the move) and research where to find these wily birds. The research is a fun part of the hunt that to me is much more meaningful and important than just going out and shooting an animal. Learning an animal's habitat and behavior is fascinating and is essential to a successful hunt and it adds to my mental data banks. For this trip, however, we found out just how unprepared we were.
  We used our new found knowledge of turkey's to attempt to find them in the mountains above Fillmore. With the exception of seeing one hen turkey crossing the road in town we saw no signs or sounds of turkey's for the first two days. Contrary to popular belief turkey's aren't a dumb animal. They are very skiddish have excellent vision. They even see in color. This is what makes them such a difficult animal to hunt. We searched high, low and drove through multiple canyons with nothing and it seemed our trip would be a complete bust until on the second evening we sat upon a ridge and listened. Low and behold as the sun crept lower in the sky we heard something. A gobble. We had found them.
  We headed back to that spot early the next morning and once again listened. As the sun came up I saw turkey's hopping out of their roosts through my field glasses and soon we heard turkey's gobble from every direction. I answered back through my box call and listened to them call back. Unfortunately for us nothing but small talk came from our banter as they would remain elusive from us for the duration of the hunt. I just couldn't convince them that I was a turkey. But that's okay. It was cool to talk back and forth with them. It was worth the time to hear them come alive in the morning. It was fun to see them, even at a distance, as they flew from the trees. You may ask if I was disappointed and I would tell you no. In my mind I had a successful hunt. I got to spend time in the mountains where I'm happy. I got to spend the weekend with a good friend and we had a good camping trip. Yes, to me a successful hunt doesn't always end with the harvest of an animal. No, there are far greater things that take place during a hunt and these are the memories that last.


Camp hijinks 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Having a Blast at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

If you are the type to get star struck then you will love this place.  If you aren't the type to get star struck you will love this place.  I guess what I am saying here is that I really think you will love this place.  Not only can you see your favorite stars close up but you can get a close up photo of the two of you and not be escorted away by security.  This is a place where your imagination can be free.  

 Jeremy got to be a pirate for a minute.  As you can tell by his standard teenager face he was less than impressed at first.  He sorta dressed as a pirate and walked near the set up scene.  As the adventure went on he got into it.  You will have the most fun here if you are looking to have fun and not worried about looking silly.  We worry way too much about people thinking we are silly anyway.  Live your life to the fullest and don't worry about what people might think of you.  Really, they are going to think you are fun if you are having fun.   

 If you have always dreamed of singing along side Johnny Cash or accepting your own Academy Award you can do that here.  As you walk by the wax impression of your favorite star you can find props to use for your photo enjoyment.  

Some of the stars were more exciting than the others.  Some of the stars were great memories from my childhood and my kids weren't as giddy.  I got a selfie with a Ninja Turtle guys!  I was thinking I was pretty cool for a while there until my kids reminded me I was old.  Ninja Turtles are cool and I'm not backing down on that, young'ns. 

Really there are wax stars for everyone.  Faith got to see her favorite singer.  Taylor Swift was such a blast for her to stand next to.  She is a tall, beautiful lady and Faith was a little star struck and it was sweet. 

Overall I think its a must do if you are brave enough to tackle a trip through Hollywood.  We made a video to show you all the things that a few still shots couldn't.  Thank you for taking this adventure with us.  

Happy travels and we hope you enjoy the show.  (shameless plug- We'd love more likes and subscribes to our YouTube channel if you are feeling up to it). 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Handprints of Hollywood.

Somewhere in my mind I always knew that there was a spot in Hollywood where the stars left their prints forever in concrete slabs.  I never really knew where, why or who started it all.  It was packed full of visitors reaching down to place their hands where their favorite stars once were.  Its crazy to think about all of history that has walked this one street.  

Grauman's Chinese Theater opened on May 18th, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. Demille's film The King of Kings.  Since that day the theater has been the home of many premiere's including the 1977 opening of Star Wars.  Three times it has held the Academy Award ceremonies.  Today the theater is known as TCL Chinese Theater but the details remain the same.  The front court is decorated with concrete squares detailed with the signatures, handprints and footprints of a select few of Hollywood greats.

One of the few free things you can do in Hollywood, this stop is a must do.  It sits right on Hollywood Boulevard between Orange and Highland.  As you walk there you will go right over the Walk of Fame stars.  There were a lot of characters there as well.  Some were in costume and some were just full of personality.  Be aware that when you take photos with these people they will expect tips.  The snake prop photo guys will tell you that its $5 for children and $10 for adults only after draping you with a large snake.  We didn't fall for it though we did watch it happen a few times. 

The space is limited.  So far there are about 175 squares filled.  This prestigious opportunity is available to only the biggest stars.  It is also a trick to get all the pictures you want.  I'm guessing if you show up early that you will have a better chance to get your perfect shot. 

We didn't get a shot of every spot we wanted and here we are only showing you a few.  175 is a lot of star power to wonder at.  Here is a list of the dates and stars that have their mark in time.  Here are a few of our favorites to wet your travel appetite.  Which star are you most excited to compare your hands to?

Happy Travels

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fading History of Delta

  Time is constantly passing by. It's one of the few things that can't control despite our best efforts to do so. Little by little as time passes we forget things that at one time may or may not have been important to us. Memories stolen from us in our sleep like deleted files from an outdated computer.
 History has a way of being treated the same way. Buildings that have strong historical significance are remembered and cared for by people that know the importance of the location. Other places are left to fade away or are even torn down to make way for the future. These fading relics are to me some of the most interesting. Here in the West there are places just like this in remote and forgotten places. One such place is Fort Deseret near Delta, Utah.
 Built in 1865 by Mormon settlers to protect themselves from Indian attacks, Fort Deseret consisted of ten foot adobe walls. Throughout the walls they placed gun ports with just enough room to see through while a rifle was occupying the opening. Just under 100 men built the 550 lineal feet of wall in just eighteen days. The funny thing about it is that the fort was never used as it was intended. Instead of fending off enemy attacks they placed livestock in it instead.
  Today it is one of Utah's state parks and while nature has melted the adobe walls down to a more modest five or 6 feet tall the fort still stands as a testament to our pioneer's drive to survive in the harsh climate.
  We spent only about thirty minutes at the fort, let's face it, it's not that big and it's surrounded by sage brush but I'm glad we got to see it. There is something surreal about walking inside these old structures, as if you can almost picture yourself there during it's peak of existence. 
  If you want to learn more about Fort Deseret you can check it out here. See you next week.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bass Pro Shop and the Mighty Hunter.

Life is full of those funny ha, ha, moments.  Brandan is a mighty hunter.  As a mighty hunter he has a lot of gear.  Somehow our path from Utah to California has a lot of stuff missing.  One of those missing things is Brandan's hunting pack filled with all his camouflage and gear.  April is the Spring turkey hunt in Utah.  Brandan is all set to go with his tags and a place but his pack is a whole different story.  

As we live here in California longer and longer we notice differences that we didn't see as much early on.  In Utah you can buy your gear along side your groceries in your local neighborhood Walmart.  If you want more of a selection then drive five minutes to the nearest sporting goods store.  We tried to plan a trip to Utah to replace his lost gear but work right now is taking a lot of his time so it wasn't going to happen.  Instead we found this little southern California treasure.  Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga was a little taste of our Utah home.  

Our little Annie Oakley popped a few quarters in the machine at the shooting gallery.  She used half of the 25 shots and I used the other half.  Together we almost beat the toddler next to us.  Turns out it was harder than it looked but we had a blast.  The store is filled with things to see and do.  Its more of an experience than just a shopping trip.  Brandan was able to buy his much needed camo for his upcoming trip but we were also able to buy some hot sauce and fudge, look at woodsy bedding sets and feel like we were in a frozen forest filled with animals of all kinds.  

Around every corner and up every wall was an outdoor scene to gaze upon.  I was startled with the man perched on the rocks above the pond until I realized he wasn't someones unruly child.  It wasn't my child at least.  Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga features over 3,500 local area antiques and artifacts, over 400 fish and animal mounts and wall after wall of beautiful murals dedicated to the outdoor experience near by.  The aquarium holds over 8,000 gallons and its not just a tank. There is a stream and waterfall so real its like being in the mountains.  The fish inside it seem to be right at home.  And no, the person in the stream isn't a real person either.  

One thing I loved was the footprints in the floor.  There were stamped animal shapes and their true to size prints to follow.  You could find the animal and see the prints or find the prints first and see if you could guess the animal by the time you found it.  Fun and learning!  Woohoo, parenting win!

Overall it was a great escape from the rush of a busy week.  Brandan has his gear and he is ready to hit the hills with his great buddy he hasn't spent a lot of time with lately.  I mean this in the most loving and caring ways. I'm a tiny bit baffled on the logic of hunting.  We buy the tags and the permits.  We buy the guns, bullets, camo and lets not forget the sounds echoing from my house of the various turkey calls.  We pay a small fortune to put him in our tent and eat junk food.  If my math is anywhere near correct we could have purchased around 50 fat frozen turkeys from the frozen section and still come out ahead.  If he is happy that makes me happy so off he goes.  Happy trails Brandan and don't forget your GPS or your cowbell.  (Ask him about that when you see him next). 

Life isn't always perfectly predictable.  I guess really its often more of weathering the storm and making the best of it.  Lost hunting gear isn't my happiest memory.  It baffles me where we might have placed it.  I keep telling my kids, in life you will find what ever it is you are looking for.  While we didn't find our hunting gear we did find a great adventure.  If you are focusing on all the rough patches in life that is all you will see. Click this link to listen to the song I hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack and live it. I'm choosing to look at this as one more happy adventure.  Extra camoflague is never a bad thing.  Part of learning to dance in the rain is the attitude you bring to it.  So here I will bring you a special treat.  Its a game, a bit like wheres Waldo.  

Can you see the mighty hunter in the trees below? 

I hope you dance. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Our First Year in California.

We're passing an anniversary here in our family.  One year ago this week we packed up everything we knew and drove down to sunny SoCal to start a new adventure.  We locked up the door to the house we called home for the last 16 years and found our way to living in a hotel.  It was definitely a memory that I am excited is just a memory at this point.

Tree Covered Backyard
We found a hotel that had a kitchen and was pet friendly.  Everything we needed to survive.  I even set the fire alarm off at 3:30 in the morning one day making breakfast for Brandan before he left for work.  There was no fire, just a little smoke from the tight kitchen.  The alarm went off about 5 seconds after it started.   Fun surprise!  If a fire alarm goes off in a hotel they call the big red truck no matter what.  That was the last time I cooked pancakes for a while.  I'm sorry random hotel neighbors,  We are early risers here.  After a while we changed hotels and the new one provided ear plugs since it was right off the freeway.  This should have been a big red flag but we stayed anyway.  Turns out we were hotel hopping during spring break season in the home town of Six Flags Magic Mountain.  From washing all of our clothes by hand, to not being able to go anywhere because of our furry pal, it was an adventure for sure.  We ate a lot of cereal.  Soon we found a house to rent.  The owner was very kind and let us move in two days after we contacted him.  We lived in an empty home with camp chairs and air mattresses for a month.  The backyard is my very favorite part.  There were even vultures living in a tree at the end of our street. This is when the exploring could really start.

In April we made a list of places we would like to see, and we have visited most of them.

We explored beaches like Harbor Cove and saw our first animal filled tide pool.

 We learned all the secrets we could about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and we went back a lot.  We love Universal Studios and its location just 30 miles from our home.  

 As Disney fanatics it was a sure bet we would spend a lot of time here.  Just 52 miles from our door, we make this drive a few times a month.  Some days its a quick hour drive.  Some days its three hours of stop and go.  Traffic here is never predictable but it is part of the whole adventure.  You learn to make the most of it, so we have.  We do a lot of studying for school in these drives.  According to the website we've used our passes 55 times so I guess wed better up our game.

In August we were able to check the Rubicon Trail off our bucket list.  We also got to explore Yosemite and get a taste of Tahoe.  We had a little time in Virginia City. We were able to spend time with some of our family from Utah and this is something we cant seem to get enough of.
We learned that you can have a huge traffic jam just about anywhere.  The one that I can never understand is the one we bump into on Sunday afternoons in Death Valley.  This adds hours to our drive from Utah to Cali.  All we can figure is that there are a lot of people in California and maybe a lot of them are coming back from weekend trips to Las Vegas.  We really have no clue but its a shocker every time.  We also learned that it gets hot here and its not a dry heat like what we were used to.  Its a melting and thick heat that I assume you get used to or learn to hide from.

  Living just 10 minutes from Six Flags Magic Mountain has been so much fun.  We have explored every little bit of this park and learned that we only thought we knew what roller coasters were.  This park can shake up the best of coaster fans.  If you love a great coaster come here.  And while your here give us a call.  We love to see our traveling friends.

This past year also had us saying goodbye to the best adventure dog ever.  Jeep was the best traveling buddy and I cant believe how much it still hurts that he isn't with us.  It was hard to watch him go but it was worse to watch him suffer.

We found little treasures like La Brea Tar Pits.  Its off our usual travel path when we are hitting the theme parks so it was a first for us.

Having a home here has given us the chance to see the things we would have liked to see but didn't have the time.  Or didn't think we had the time.  Time is a funny thing.  Time keeps ticking away no matter how we choose to use it.  While we have made a lot of memories and visited a lot of places, we have also watched a lot of time slip by.  We have learned how much we want to be with the ones we love in life.  We have learned that time isn't something you can get back.  We have learned that you can put off anything and there will always be reasons you cant go.  Make it happen!  Make spending quality time and creating life long memories a priority,  I think in the end we will look back and appreciate that we did.  I don't think we will ever wish we spent more time at work, spent more time in front of the TV, or spent more time being angry over dirty dishes.

This past year has ignited a fire under us to make the best use of the time we are given.  This past year we have learned how much we are thankful and excited to get each opportunity we have.  This next year we want to be one we will look back on with a smile and know we gave it our all.  What is on the books for this next year?  While we don't have our calendar all filled out we have some great hopes.  A new RV is on our list for sure.  We will be cruising Alaska very soon.  We would love to see more National Parks and Mount Rushmore has been calling to us for years.  We will spend more time camping and enjoying off road adventures.  Above all we will do our best to make the very most of it.

What are you looking forward to for the next year?  And what have you put off that it might be time to make happen?

Happy trails and happier memories.